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Getting the Meeting – The five things you can do to connect with dream clients

If you’ve been in the A/E/C service industry for any amount of time I’m sure you’ve asked yourself, “How do THEY do IT?” How do your competitors get in front of the client that you’ve been chasing for years with no success to speak of? How do they get on the winning team every time? Odds are they have been practicing at least three of five ideas to gain trust and hook the big fish you’ve never been able to catch.

1. Be genuine – When you are simply telling a client what they want to hear you are insulting their intelligence and might be committing your team to a level of care that you aren’t prepared to meet, which is both unethical and risky. Understand who you are and reach out from a place of humility and genuineness. As real people themselves, clients want to connect with real people who aren’t placating or effusive merely to gain favor. Similarly, when developing teaming relationships it’s best to meet hat in hand so that you can be evaluated on your real merits, not just your portfolio or cost but what YOU can provide to the team.

2. Be persistent – There’s a fine line between persistence and pestering. Successful service providers and teammates know how to maintain a conversation over the long term. Set your sights on impressing them with value over a longer timeline. If you’re able to make in roads quicker, great! But count on a long courtship during which you dazzle them with bits of information, sell the invisible aspects of your team (personality and individual assets), bone-up on their personal hobbies - what makes them happy, and find relatable common ground. Take advantage of social networking to find the personal edge that might give you inroads. Once you get the meeting, find a way to get the next meeting.

3. Be a cold caller – Even in this era of low-cost bidding wars and direct-to-market RFPs you can still make some great connections by picking up the phone or visiting your client-to-be. Too often we rely on response-based contact or hoping that our email gets through the daily chaff. It’s far easier for someone to relate to a voice or a face. Tie this in with #2 and you’ve got a winning formula, call periodically, leave a voicemail with some information or suggest an article that might intrigue them (preferably not about your firm or even the industry). Before you make the call make sure that you’re talking to the right people – the c-suite might not be the right place for your conversation.

4. Be inquisitive – When you interact with current and potential clients ask open-ended questions to get the real response you are looking for. Find out what would improve your service and value. “What would it look like if your projects were flawless?” In these questions about themselves you may learn where your team needs to improve or what message will resonate best with them. Keep the questions open and not directed to your team or skill sets. You may discover their measure for success, and it might look drastically different than you predicted.

5. Be valuable – Whether you are trying to get the meeting or you are managing clients you have had for decades they will be impressed and feel special when you bring value. It is important to know the customer, know what they are looking for, and can do the research to create a lasting impression. Little steps, like creating a thoughtful agenda for your meetings or suggesting a book that might give them some new insights, are great ways to prove that you are worth knowing. Similarly, when you find ways to bring value to your internal team and make their lives better you create value within your resources that self-perpetuates.

The one thing all of these ideas have in common is that you are not connecting a company to a company, you are connecting a person to a person. When you manage corporate relationships as you would your friends or family –keep it professional however – then you will be on your way to getting the meetings and making the connections that set you and your team apart from all the other anglers.

Jeremy Morris
Marketing Coordinator
American Engineering Testing, Inc.

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